A swoop on Fife’s gull problem will target its root cause – food litter from humans.
A cull on the often aggressive birds was previously ruled out by Fife Council.
Instead the local authority will campaign to reduce the edible leftovers which attract them.
Mark McCall, Fife Council safer communities service manager, said culling gulls, as Dundee did last year, was a city centre approach which would only deal with a focused area.
While Kirkcaldy is known as a hotspot for the feathered fiends, which frequently swoop at passers-by and have been known to steal food from people’s hands, numerous other towns and villages are also suffering.
Mr McCall said: “We have a number of communities across Fife which have an issue with gull nuisance and any action should be proportionate, not targeted in one area.”
The drive to raise awareness will remind the public and commercial premises, particularly food outlets, of their responsibility to prevent littering and food waste.
It will start ahead of the nesting season, which begins in late March, early April.
More signs will be erected in coastal communities and town centres warning people against feeding gulls.
Visits will be made to commercial premises and contact made with high schools in an attempt to reduce littering by pupils.
Patrols will also be stepped up by safer communities officers and CCTV cameras will be used to catch and fine litterbugs.
Councillor Karen Marjoram said: “I welcome the idea that we do something to change human behaviour. Ultimately, we all know people are making it easier for the gulls to be fed.”
Litter bins due for renewal in areas frequented by gulls will be replaced with gull-proof versions.
However, an in-house gull management programme for property owners with nests was ruled out, as councillors were told private sector pest controllers could provide the service for a lower cost.
The council’s environment, protective services and community safety committee said a direct service would still be offered where possible and advice given.
Research into action taken in other parts of Scotland concluded nothing had been successful over a sustained period and the cost of nest and egg removal, dummy eggs, culling and seagull proofing roofs was high in comparison with the results.
A pilot of nest and egg removal in central Kirkcaldy was funded last year, but its impact will not be known for another three years.